The defining moment onEternity, In Your Arms, Creeper’s long-awaited debut album, is also its most unexpected. Just over halfway through, Room 309 – a raging punk song and one of the heaviest tracks here – builds to its gentler, acoustic climax. Frontman Will Gould and keyboardist Hannah Greenwood’s voices blend harmoniously before giving way to the sound of a mass of chirping insects. This, in turn, introduces Crickets. An entirely acoustic track, its country-tinged sway is simultaneously a total surprise and the perfect antidote to what’s come before.
That segue, and the song that follows, is a microcosm of the album: ambitious, yet perfectly executed. Creeper’s decision to spend two and a half years releasing only EPs and building a mythology around their songs was potentially high-risk. The higher the concept got – with the band ‘disappearing’ prior to the album’s announcement, and sending fans on painstakingly planned treasure hunts around their home city of Southampton – the higher the stakes became. After a six-month teaser campaign, you’d be forgiven for wondering if the end result could possibly match the effort that had gone into its promotion.
So it’s with no small amount of delight to discover that Eternity, In Your Arms is an absolute corker. The band’s clever strategy of getting years of touring under their belts, and developing their songwriting chops beyond the catchy but straightforward pop-punk of their self-titled EP, released back in 2014, has paid off in droves. While it’s certainly no genrebusting reinvention, this record is still a stunning achievement, packed from start to finish with kaiju-sized choruses and without a single note out of place.
Producer/collaborator Neil Kennedy’s production provides just enough sheen to make Creeper sound at home on the radio without sacrificing the raw power of their trademark 90s punk influences, and Will’s voice is a revelation, particularly on future anthems like Down Below and epic closer I Choose To Live. And not since she made her debut on last year’s The Stranger EP has Hannah’s contribution to Creeper been so obvious, and so vital. Aside from adding beautiful vocal and piano textures, her lead vocal on the aforementioned Crickets is just incredible: powerful yet somehow fragile, her voice verging on cracking but always completely under control.
It’s not flawless. Creeper have always worn their influences with pride, but Darling staggers the line between homage to and pastiche of Alkaline Trio with drunken abandon and the inclusion of the year-old Misery in lieu of another original composition is an odd choice, but it would be churlish to pretend they don’t make sense in the context of the album, or in any way ruin its masterful pacing.
And it is masterful. This isn’t just a collection of songs; it’s a true journey, a tour de force of narrative songwriting. The kind of album you want to listen to again as soon as it’s over, Eternity, In Your Arms cements Creeper’s place as the UK’s most exciting new band.